Silly faces. The one thing every family portrait photographer (and parent!) dread at a session. You get everyone lined up and tell them to smile and a child starts to make a silly face. ugh! What do you do? Do you say something? Do you get the parents to tell the child to stop? As a photographer, so many thoughts run through your mind in that one second!
Over the years, I have learned one simple trick to get children to stop making silly faces while you are taking photos, you let them!! Hear me out on this one.
Every session, I purposely ask children to make silly faces at me. I always start with “test shots.” I ask the children to stand (where I will be taking their portraits) and ask them to “help” me get my camera ready. I ask the children to make a variety of faces at me from scary face, to grumpy face, to sad face, to happy face. That one moment I say “happy face”, I usually get great genuine smiles.
Here is a test shot, from a real family session. I told this little boy to scare me…he did a really good job! And then I told him to do a happy face! It works every time!
Then I add the parents into the shots and run through the faces again. I say something like, “let’s see mom’s and dad’s sad face or grumpy face. The entire family makes a face and I shoot it. And then we get to “happy face”, everyone smiles a genuine smile.
I will repeat “make a face at me” periodically throughout the shoot, especially if I notice the kids are starting to wiggle or get bored. I always stop shooting the silly faces. I just call them out to the family and then shoot only the “happy” or “joy” faces. Giving children just those few seconds to change faces, gives them something to think about and do, instead of just holding a smile. There is nothing worse than a forced smile.
Still don’t believe that it works..? Check out these sessions!
Yorktown family session-Vogt family!
Have all boys?? This family can relate! Let the boys be boys for a few seconds! Check out the Conradi family!
Try this tip out next time you have a family session!